The numbers are startling: Hundreds of sea turtles have begun washing up into bays and onto beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. Six hundred of the mottled, soup-plate-shaped reptiles came ashore in just four states in 2010, six times the annual average. This year, 563 have been stranded.
Blame the oil that fouled those waters after the BP spill? No, government scientists say, there is a more mundane local culprit: shrimpers who are ignoring regulations to prevent endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles from becoming ensnared in their nets.